By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Earthtani, a cottage bakery founded by Toni Luschen, celebrates the rich bounty of Minnesota’s seasons through gardening, foraging, farmers marketing, preserving, and observing. 

Toni was working in marketing in the Twin Cities when she fully embraced her hobby and enrolled in culinary school. “I was talking with a co-worker who was considering new golf clubs. I was thinking about getting a new mixer. He told me, ‘Never skimp on your hobbies.’ I thought—okay—not only will I get a new mixer, but I will also go to culinary school.” 

The program at the now-closed Art Institutes International Minnesota immersed Toni in a full culinary program. As a final project, Toni had to create a business plan for a restaurant. With her brother’s input, Earthtani was first born on paper. The “Earth” part highlighting the seasonality of her preferred recipes and the “tani” as a bit of poetic license with her first name.  

In the fall of 2017, Toni founded Earthtani from her corner of St. Paul. The bakery combines her home garden, her weekly trips to the St Paul Farmer’s Markets, her avid reading of cookbooks from her local library, and her desire to provide her customers with something “Simple, Seasonal and Sweet.” 

The restaurants, including Bacio, Good Day Cafe, Lucia’s, and Turtle Bread, where Toni interned and worked underscored the joy and importance of working with local ingredients. “I’ve been lucky to work with people who want to work with local farmers, to work with whole ingredients,” shared Toni. “I’ve been lucky to have that experience at every place I’ve worked. Pushing those seasonal ingredients and celebrating them was how we thought and planned our menus.” 

Winter in Minnesota is Toni’s library season. “I have a stack of twelve cookbooks from the library right now,” laughed Toni. “I’ve always been a library geek. As a kid I could barely carry my stacks out the door. Now those cookbooks give her suggestions for flavor combinations and how to apply techniques. “Even if I don’t write down a recipe, I write down notes about flavor combinations and apply that to something I already have a base for.” 

Toni maintains a small home library of her absolute favorite texts. “My copy of Baking with Julia is literally falling apart,” smiled Toni. “Nancy Silverton and Martha Stewart are two of my other resources when you want a recipe that’s going to work.” 

Toni describes her style as classically inspired with simple roots. “I like to bake things that people know like coffee cakes, turnovers, and muffins. I make a lot of cookies and cakes for events,” said Toni. “My baked goods have a flair because of the seasonality and the flavors that I put into it. It’s going to be sweet, but not too sweet. I strive to always have balance.” 

Toni finds daily baking in restaurants to be a “moving meditation.” Now the lead baker at Minneapolis’s ALT BuRGEr, Toni is positively rhapsodic about the immersive sensory experience of baking. “You work with your hands. You see with your eyes. You can literally hear the change when your brown butter is ready,” explained Toni.  “It’s a full body process for me. It makes me happy.” 

Through Earthtani and her restaurant work, Toni finds great joy in preparing food for others. “I get to express myself through food that nourishes others. People take home the cookies or the bread I made and share it with their loved ones. It’s part of a meal that nourishes them,” shared Toni. “It’s an honor to bake for other people. I really take it to heart.” 

When she’s not baking, you’ll find her in the garden. Her grow lights are on and the shallots and onions are already getting their start for the 2024 season. You may also find her bike commuting to work in the summer, taking her daily walk, or reading a few pages of a non cookbook before she falls asleep at night. 

Toni is one of three creative makers who you will meet along with Chef Beth Fisher and Michelle Sharp of @meettheminnesotamakers at the @mn_arb on Saturday, March 16.

This intimate class brings makers together to share the behind the scenes of their small businesses. Engage with Minnesota Makers as they share their stories. Learn how these entrepreneurs shape their crafts. Sample delicious products. Take home recipes and samples. Registration available through the Arboretum website.

Visit to explore Toni’s simple, seasonal and sweet menus.

Follow @earthtanicsb on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s happening in the kitchen, at AltBurger (where Toni is the lead baker), or on a walk with her dog.  

Follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover the local makers who make Minnesota amazing!

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